The National Park

The Virgin Islands National Park encompasses over half the island of St. John and almost all of Hassel Island preserving stories of the prehistoric past and over a hundred historic sites that together complete one of the most undisturbed and comprehensive Caribbean landscapes.

Significant prehistoric sites are present on almost every beach and bay within the park. These archeological sites date from as early as 840 BC to the arrival of Columbus. There are early nomadic hunter-gatherer Archaic Period sites, followed by early chiefdom villages, then complex ceremonial sites, each with their own burial grounds. These sites have given us a greater understanding of this Caribbean region’s prehistory and religious and social development of the Taino culture that greeted Columbus. They have dramatically increased our understanding of the ancient rock art that is found throughout the Caribbean islands. We now know when Caribbean rock art was carved and why they were carved in these specific areas, such as those found in the park at Reef Bay. Their purpose, religious meaning and their reflection of cultural development.

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